ABSTRACT

To say that linguistic phenomena are inseparable from the context in which they are produced signifies above all that we must reject the dichotomy between speaking and acting. Discourse cannot be studied independently of the circumstances that give it meaning, and in which it is deployed (Sharrock and Watson, 1990: 234). An action and the account of that action are inseparable. People act and speak in order to be intelligible, and therefore it is the concrete, practical conditions in which intelligibility is produced that we must study. If we consider, for example, the social attributes that participants in interaction emphasize in discourse, we observe that they are not invariably attached to those to whom they are imputed. Rather, they depend on the particular environment in which the discourse takes place, and

1 For reflections on the notion of context in linguistic anthropology, see Duranti and Goodwin, 1992. On the notion of relevance, see Sperber and Wilson, 1995.